Wyman’s of Maine and Penn State Center for Pollinator Research Join Together to Help Save the Honey Bees
Posted: March 17, 2016
This month, Wyman’s of Maine, one of the country’s leading wild blueberry growers, joins Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research’s newly formed Stakeholder Advisory Board. The primary initiative of the group focuses on pollinator health to help conserve and expand honey bee populations.
Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately one third of the major global food crops. Each year, however, US beekeepers experience substantial losses of their honey bee colonies, and populations of many wild bee species are in decline.
“Wild blueberries are 100% dependent on honeybees for pollination, so it’s a pretty simple business equation for us,” said Ed Flanagan, president and CEO of Wyman’s of Maine. “No bees equals no blueberries. We cannot afford to sit and wait for others to figure this out. We need to step up and bring our experience and voice to the table with the beekeepers, scientists and other committed stakeholders. Tackling climate change, for example, is beyond Wyman’s, but tackling bee losses is within our sustainability footprint.”
With the input of the Stakeholder Advisory Board, the Center for Pollinator Research plans to implement a major project this year that will assess the quality of beehives, identify the landscape features that promote healthy hives and then develop landscapes that are ideal for the creation of those hives.
Wyman’s farms in Maine and Prince Edward Island are some of the locations where the research on both honey bees and native bees will take place. The idea is to create real world solutions by taking their research out of the lab at Penn State and onto the fields.
“Wyman’s is really unique because they were early adopters of sustainable farming and one of the first to include protecting the services of pollinators,” said Christina Grozinger, director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State University. “They are a great model for other growers who depend on the pollination services of honey bees and wild bees. Wyman’s is also thinking about these issues very holistically – they don’t just want to save the honey bees, but want to promote healthy populations of both managed and wild bees.”
Representatives from 12 local, national and international organizations committed to supporting and expanding the population of bees, make up the board. Members include American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, among others. The Center for Pollinator Research is one of the largest groups of pollinator researchers and educators in the world.
Wyman’s has a long history with Penn State University having provided $100,000 in unrestricted grants to the Department of Entomology over the last six years.
Wyman’s has been a leader in the effort to save the honey bees. They have delivered testimony to a Congressional hearing on USDA funding for bee health, delivered a keynote stakeholder speech at the 2010 Pollinator Conference at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and attending a White House Pollinator Initiative meeting.
Wyman’s has also funded an ongoing University of Maine Audit of Hive Health to perform “bee physicals,” testing the condition of bees before and after their time on Wyman’s wild blueberry fields. Wyman’s manages its own 1,400 hives at their facility on Prince Edward Island with a resident apiarist and is working with Agri Food Canada on a study on optimal habitat for native pollinators. Wyman’s is an active sponsor of The Pollinator Partnership, an organization dedicated to pollinator health and research.
About Wyman’s of Maine:
Family owned since 1874, Wyman’s of Maine is a premium supplier of wild blueberries, strawberries, red raspberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries and mango chunks. They sustainably farm 11,000 acres of wild blueberries in Maine, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, Canada, and source other fruits from partner growers with the same commitment to quality, food safety and responsible growing.
Wyman’s remains committed to sustainability through stewarding natural and human resources. Some of their efforts include enhancing and protecting their soil, water and air, improving the welfare of their employees and their rural communities, and helping the small farms that sell to Wyman’s. They also have a dedicated focus on the protection of honey bees, the pollinators that sustain their farms.
All fresh fruit is IQF (Individual Quick Frozen) processed within 24 hours of harvest, locking in fresh fruit flavor and character in a state of the art processing system. Wyman’s products can be found in the freezer section of a variety of retailers nationally. For more information, please visit www.Wymans.com or www.Facebook.com/WymansofMaine. You can also follow Wyman’s on Twitter or Instagram at @WymansFruit.
Molly Kravitz, Connelly Partners